What Ingredient Makes The Buttercream Crust?

Baking By mohara Updated 31 May 2005 , 7:45pm by Lisa

mohara Posted 31 May 2005 , 2:24am
post #1 of 10

I'm confused.
I am trying to understand the difference between the crusting and non-crusting BC. Of course I understand the actual difference, but I was trying to figure out what ingredient causes the crusting. I printed off a recipe for Non Crusting buttercream to try, but it seems to include the same ingr. as the crusting bc...so now I am intrigued as to what causes it to crust. I was looking at Baking 911, and they say for fondant icing, to add more shortening to make the icing smoother and to slow the crusting process. But then I looked at the non-crusting recipe I printed, and there isn't any shortening in it at all...so that must not be what makes it not crust. The non crusting recipe on this site uses butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, almond extract and salt...and then it even has a variation if you want to use a butter/shortening combo. I'm stumped! What makes the BC crust???

The reason for asking is because I love Lisa's BC recipe on the site, but once it crusts, I think you lose some of that delicious flavor I could taste when it was freshly made and smooth and creamy. I was trying to guess how to keep if from crusting so much...but I can't figure out what ingredient does it. Maybe I will just have to frost the same day we'll be eating it, and that will slow the process down...does anyone have any suggestions?

9 replies
SquirrellyCakes Posted 31 May 2005 , 2:59am
post #2 of 10

Well, I will take a shot at this one. Here is my opinion. An icing that is at least half butter to half shortening, well it sets, but it doesn't actually crust. At least not the way I make it with cream and milk. It gets the texture of a rolled buttercream. Now there is some disagreement as to whether or not meringue powder causes crusting or not, I think it increases it personally. But I think the fact that there is cornstarch in the icing sugar in the U.S. and Canada and that in combination with all shortening and water, gives this crusting effect to some degree. The addition of meringue powder increases the crusting action. Think of it like royal icing to some degree, it will crust but not harden up like Royal, because though there is egg whites, dried which is the meringue powder, the fat stops it from hardening. I find that crusting buttercream gets drier on the surface than does a buttercream made with some butter and cream or/and milk. I also believe that an all shortening recipe with icing sugar and water, tends to dry out easier as the water does tend to evaporate in a shorter period of time. That is just my opinion based on my experiences. To slow the process, I would enclose the cake in an airtight container as soon as it is iced. I do this also with my half butter half shortening recipe and if I have to ice a cake a day or two ahead, I box it immediately and then completely seal the boxed cake in a plastic bag. Or I enclose the cake in a plastic airtight container.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

mohara Posted 31 May 2005 , 3:27am
post #3 of 10

The recipe I made is Lisa's (the ingred. are listed below) and it is beyond delicious...I just wish it didn't crust as much. The shortening/butter ration is equal, and it does crust. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't crust any more than any other buttercream.....I mean, I know the texture is the way it is suppose to be, I just think people notice more the "crusting" than the flavor...the flavor seemed more intense when it was freshly made and smooth and creamy. Is there any way to retain that?

1 Cup Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter (room temp.)
1 Cup Shortening
4-6 Tablespoons Warm Water
2 Teaspoons Clear Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Butter Flavor
1 Two Pound Bag of Confectioners Sugar (sifted only if it's lumpy)

SquirrellyCakes Posted 31 May 2005 , 3:53am
post #4 of 10

Well you could try using cream and or whole milk as your liquid. But is sounds like what you want is more like a canned frosting texture but a better taste and no, short of trying out the milk and or cream in it, you cannot maintain that texture, it is just what happens when the air gets at it. The taste shouldn't really change though, but then, I don't use artificial flavourings so that may be a factor. I do not understand why you would use a butter flavouring when there is real butter in a recipe, but then I don't like the chemical tastes of artificial vanilla or butter flavourings.
Try the milk or cream and sealing up the cake and see if this doesn't make a difference. Personally I find it does. Also if you add more milk or cream and make the icing a more thinned consistency, it will likely stay creamier longer, but the drawback will be smoothing it won't work as well as it will not set in the same manner.
This recipe is basically the Wilton recipe because the ratio of fat to icing sugar is the same - 4 cups of sugar to 1 cup of fat, with the exception of using water instead of dairy product as your liquid. Not the Wilton class recipe but the other one on the site.
I suspect the artificial flavourings lose some of their flavour the longer they sit or are exposed to the air.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

Lisa Posted 31 May 2005 , 4:48am
post #5 of 10

Hmm...I don't know. I haven't had these problems. The taste doesn't change on me...could just be the over-crusting that made it seem different. I remember you only added 3T of warm water. I always add 6 and sometimes more. It's stiff enough for me to do good stars but isn't so stiff that it wears out my hand. You also have to keep the cakes tightly covered especially if they're decorated in stars otherwise...gets crunchy Yuck! All crusting BCs will do that. It's just the drying out process.

When it comes to BCs, you just have to find what works for you. Next time you make it, try adding less powdered sugar.

I've tried all butter recipes, 2/3 butter recipes, all shortening recipes, half butter/half shortening...I took what I liked from each recipe and rolled it into one. I wanted the butter flavor from the all butter recipe but the ease of handling from a half butter, half shortening recipe. I wanted it smooth and creamy like the 2/3 butter recipes but I wanted it to crust like an all shortening recipe. That's how I came to the recipe I use.

The extra butter flavor is to compensate for the 1/2 shortening in the recipe and the warm water makes it smooth and creamy. The ratio of powdered sugar to shortening/butter is what makes it crust.

I hope that helps! Before you know it...you'll have your own recipe that works perfectly for you.

mohara Posted 31 May 2005 , 1:34pm
post #6 of 10

Now I know what did it.
I didn't cover it! I didn't realize I should have; dummy me. I knew people said it could sit out at room temperature, so I left it out....uncovered. That's what I was trying to describe...the crunchiness of the stars kinda overshadowed the taste.....I am sure once I cover it next time, it will be perfect!!!!! I did only add 3 and my stars weren't as defined as I would have liked them. Maybe I overbeat it....

Oh well, its a learning process. I'll get it right.
Lisa, I hope you know, I love your recipe and will keep using it. It tastes awesome. I wasn't trying to criticize it...it just tasted soooooo good smooth that I wanted to retain that...but since I left it uncovered, I caused the crunchiness! Now I know and I will do much better next time!!!!!!!!!!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 31 May 2005 , 2:19pm
post #7 of 10

I wasn't trying to critique the recipe either, just trying to find a solution to the problem. You have about half of the amount of liquid you require if you used 3 tbsp. of liquid in this recipe, 3 tbsp. covers about 4-5 cups of icing sugar and you had eight cups of icing sugar.
The butter flavouring is used when you make an all shortening recipe, to give a simulated butter taste. It is a matter of personal choice, but personally I find in any recipe that is half butter, the butter overpowers the shortening as shortening really doesn't have a taste, it has more of a texture than anything. In fact that is why it became popular because it doesn't tranfer taste to the items you cook in it.
Also an additional note, placing a cake in a cardboard box will protect the moisture to some degree, but because it is paper, it will also absorb some of the moisture. That is why a plastic sealed container or storing a boxed cake in plastic helps maintain the moisture for a longer period of time. Water in icings tends to evaporate at a faster pace than milk or cream. It is more noticable in an iced cake that has been frozen and thawed out.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

mohara Posted 31 May 2005 , 2:29pm
post #8 of 10

What kind of plastic bags do you use to fit a large cake? Like a big drawstring garbage bag?

I know what you are saying about the amt of water, but it seemed extremely creamy, and my stars weren't as defined as I thought they were suppose to be. Maybe it was just me being sloppy. I am very new at this and just learning. Maybe I overbeat it too and that is why it didn't seem to need more water. It seemed like the perfect spreading consistency with only the 3 Tbls....I don't know. I'll get it.

Thank you all for your help. I value every post I read!!!!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 31 May 2005 , 2:43pm
post #9 of 10

Haha, yes, I tend to use green unscented garbage bags a lot for bagging cakes, for bagging buttercream transfers and also, sometimes for garbage, haha! Yes those will do as will the white kitchen garbage bags as long as they are unscented. If the cake is going out to a customer that wants it ahead of time, I use clear painter's plastic dropsheet or the white bags, just in case it looks tacky.
Hhmn, the thing with butter in icing, is that it is much more susceptible to the heat, it melts at approximately 83 F. So if you add your water and it is more than warm, it may well have caused the butter to melt. Also your hand temperature may be higher than some other folks. This is a problem I have, so I actually find a ratio of 5 cups of icing sugar to 1 cup of combined butter and shortening works best for me. Normally I would say that with only 3 tbsp. water for this amount of icing sugar, you should have had an extremely stiff icing, almost impossible to work with. So it sounds like either your water was too hot or your room temperature or hand temperature caused melting.
I actually beat my butter while it is cold, to try to limit this issue for me. My room temperature is a constant 70F otherwise I am one miserable decorator. I used cold cream and milk too, again in an effort to keep the icing from getting too warm.
You may be one of those folks that actually has to use cool water. I have decorating friends that have to keep dipping their hands in ice water while they work, otherwise their icing becomes a sloppy mess and oozes all over the place. But the way you are describing the stars not forming, sounds like the icing was actually melting.
That is the one disadvantage to using an icing with butter in it, you have to be aware of temperatures. But personally, I find that the taste of the end product makes up for it.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

Lisa Posted 31 May 2005 , 7:45pm
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by mohara

Now I know what did it.
I didn't cover it! I didn't realize I should have; dummy me. I knew people said it could sit out at room temperature, so I left it out....uncovered. That's what I was trying to describe...the crunchiness of the stars kinda overshadowed the taste.....

Oh...I can't even imagine what a cake covered in stars made with crusting BC would taste like after a day or so left uncovered. It would be really crunchy! At least your one up on making dried BC flowers icon_smile.gif You can make roses using crusting BC and let them airdry. Makes them easier to put on the cake plus you can make them ahead of time and store them. You can even dust them or airbrush'em.

I put my cakes in boxes and then cover them with cheap, plain white garbage bags (no draw-strings or it will really look like you put your cake in a garbage bag) or I'll just wrap the top and sides with plastic wrap.

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